Fifa stands by the man who made dop­ing a na­tional in­dus­try

Vi­taly Mutko has been given an Olympic ban but world foot­ball’s gov­ern­ing body has no prob­lem with him head­ing up next year’s World Cup in Rus­sia

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Oliver Brown -

Rus­sia’s elab­o­rate dop­ing made East Ger­many’s State Plan 14.25 look like a school chem­istry ex­per­i­ment

If any­body still thinks that the de­ci­sion to ban Rus­sia from next year’s Win­ter Olympics rep­re­sents a bright day for truth and jus­tice, it is worth con­sid­er­ing how happy the sup­posed vic­tims are about it all. Alexan­der Zhukov, Rus­sia’s Olympic king­pin, ex­uded the re­lief of a man whose team had dodged a bul­let this week. “They’ll be called Rus­sian ath­letes and not some kind of neu­trals – that’s very im­por­tant,” he said. Come the clos­ing cer­e­mony in Pyeongchang, the coun­try’s tri­color could, if ev­ery­one plays along, be flut­ter­ing over­head once more. It smacks less of a right­eous cru­sade by the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee than of a face-sav­ing pact be­tween Lausanne and the Krem­lin.

And, yet, when it comes to the fine art of supra­na­tional sporting bod­ies con­ven­ing be­side Swiss lakes to do as lit­tle as pos­si­ble, the IOC will al­ways be gazumped by Fifa. No sooner had IOC pres­i­dent Thomas Bach con­firmed that Vi­taly Mutko – Rus­sia’s deputy prime min­is­ter, and or­ches­tra­tor of in­sti­tu­tion­alised dop­ing so elab­o­rate it made the East Ger­mans’ State Plan 14.25 look like a school chem­istry ex­per­i­ment – would be un­wel­come at fu­ture Games, than Fifa, in its in­fi­nite in­tegrity, in­di­cated it had no prob­lem with him lead­ing ar­range­ments for the 2018 World Cup. “This has no im­pact on prepa­ra­tions as we con­tinue work­ing to de­liver the best pos­si­ble event,” read the blood­less state­ment from Zurich. No im­pact? Ac­cord­ing to whistle­blower Grig­ory Rod­chenkov’s 52-page af­fi­davit to the Sch­mid Com­mis­sion, both Mutko and Yuri Nagornykh, his then deputy in the Rus­sian sports min­istry, “knew about and as­serted con­trol over the state-spon­sored sys­tem”.

Mutko told Nagornykh of the need for suc­cess at the Sochi Win­ter Games in 2014 “at any cost”, as his lieu­tenant set about re­fin­ing the dop­ing pro­to­cols. Soon af­ter Lon­don 2012, he had also ap­proached Rod­chenkov, head of the “Sochi lab”, about find­ing the most ef­fec­tive drug for Rus­sian Olympians to use with­out risk of de­tec­tion.

Through­out Rod­chenkov’s tes­ti­mony, de­scribed by former Swiss pre­mier Sa­muel Sch­mid as “wa­ter­tight”, Mutko is as­signed not so much a walk-on part as star billing. He con­veyed “ex­treme anger” when Elena Lash­manova, a race walker, was ac­ci­den­tally doped with a per­for­mance-en­hanc­ing pep­tide, fear­ing his house of cards was about to col­lapse. Mutko was sent writ­ten warn­ings by Rod­chenkov, high­light­ing the “dis­as­ter” of im­proved test­ing and the “sloppy

Caught out: Vi­taly Mutko, Rus­sia’s deputy prime min­is­ter, walks past a pic­ture of leg­endary Soviet Union goal­keeper Lev Yashin

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